In Their Own Words: The Social Component
There is an underlying tension that the following narrative foregrounds - that oftentimes the desire to chat with other people doesn't translate into a desire to actually form significant relationships with other players.
I greatly enjoy socializing in-game. One of my on-line pals says that I see Everquest/Everquest2 as my pretty little chat room with avatars, which is an accurate description. I have cultivated a group of online friends that I greatly enjoy talking to and have even gone so far as to meet them at the Everquest conventions where I found I still greatly enjoyed their company. The down side of these online relationships is that on the one hand, where people who may have social or physical difficulties can express themselves in an unprejudiced environment, you still don't 'know' a person until you meet them. I have found that while most people are seemingly fairly stable, there are still those that desperately need help.
For whatever reason, people really open up to me (or my avatar as it were) and there have been a few occasions where someone has expressed suicidal urges or told a story that is deeply disturbing. While I can 'listen', I am not trained in counseling and in that regard online relationships can be difficult if not emotionally draining. So, while I can say I deeply enjoy many of my relationships, for the most part I prefer my relationships to be a bit shallow or superficial. It's the only way I can protect myself emotionally.
I want to get on these games and have fun not play pseudo-counselor to folks who have big problems - bigger than I'm equipped to deal with and that I'm definitely not trained to deal with. I wish them all the best, but I like it when our conversations are limited to joking, light stories and accomplishing things. Apologies for the ramblings. [EQ, F, 37]
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